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From the Crimson Twill series

Will leave readers cackling with delight.

In her second outing, Crimson invites her city friends for a country visit.

Spunky, independent-thinking witch Crimson Twill is excited that the friends she made during her New Wart City trip are coming to Cackle County to visit her. Planning a perfect visit for Wesley and Mauve, both of whom, like Crimson, stand out from the crowd, is all she’s been able to think about. But nothing goes according to plan. First, Crimson’s spell mishap in the rotten apple orchard results in a messy rain of rotten applesauce. Then, at the broom fields, where magic flying straw for witch broom bristles grows, an enthusiastic cutting mishap leaves acrophobic Wesley in need of an aerial rescue. Finally, at the croaking corral (where witches catch frog croaks in bottles), an accidental full-force croak to the face leaves quiet Mauve ribbitting uncontrollably at the top of her lungs. The gentle tensions—along with the comedic examples of witch culture (“untidying” rooms is one of their chores)—will charm readers. Just when Crimson accepts that things don’t have to go according to plan for the visit to be a success, the plot tosses a giant curveball at the kids, which gives them another opportunity to turn a mistake into a day-saving, happy accident. Grayscale illustrations play up the humor—especially when it’s messy—and depict Crimson (and family) and Wesley (and his mother) as pale, and Mauve (and her father) with dark skin.

Will leave readers cackling with delight. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781536214642

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

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From the Night Frights series , Vol. 1

Lighthearted spook with a heaping side of silliness—and hair.

Fifth graders get into a hairy situation.

After an unnamed narrator’s full-page warning, readers dive right into a Wolver Hollow classroom. Mr. Noffler recounts the town legend about how, every Oct. 19, residents don fake mustaches and lock their doors. As the story goes, the late Bockius Beauregard was vaporized in an “unfortunate black powder incident,” but, somehow, his “magnificent mustache” survived to haunt the town. Once a year, the spectral ’stache searches for an exposed upper lip to rest upon. Is it real or superstition? Students Parker and Lucas—sole members of the Midnight Owl Detective Agency—decide to take the case and solve the mustache mystery. When they find that the book of legends they need for their research has been checked out from the library, they recruit the borrower: goth classmate Samantha von Oppelstein. Will the three of them be enough to take on the mustache and resolve its ghostly, unfinished business? Whether through ridiculous plot points or over-the-top descriptions, the comedy keeps coming in this first title in McGee’s new Night Frights series. A generous font and spacing make this quick-paced, 13-chapter story appealing to newly confident readers. Skaffa’s grayscale cartoon spot (and occasional full-page) illustrations help set the tone and accentuate the action. Though neither race or skin color is described in the text, images show Lucas and Samantha as light-skinned and Parker as dark-skinned.

Lighthearted spook with a heaping side of silliness—and hair. (maps) (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8089-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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Aimed straight at proto-Goosebumps fans, this formulaic series opener pits two 9-year-olds against a great white shark with legs. Having lost his bike in a lake thanks to the latest hare-brained scheme of his impulsive cousin Henry, bookish Keats reluctantly agrees to finance a replacement by earning some money taking on odd jobs at a spooky local mansion. The prosaic task of weeding the garden quickly turns into an extended flight through a series of magical rooms after a shark monster rises out of the ground and gives chase. Dashing from one narrow squeak to the next, the lads encounter a kitchen with an invisible "sink," a giant vomiting bookworm in the library, a carpet pattern in the hall that (literally) bites and, most usefully, a magic wand that they get to keep (setting up future episodes) after spelling the monster away. Tilted points of view give the occasional illustrations more energy than the labored plot ever musters, and the characters rarely show even two dimensions. Fledgling readers will do better in the hands of Jim Benton’s Franny K. Stein series or Bruce and Katherine Coville’s Moongobble and Me books. (Horror. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86675-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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